As the events unfolded yesterday at Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the world, we were all reminded that life can indeed change in an instant. And when it does, we must all do our part to help those who are suffering.
At 2:40p.m., we got the first notification that a gunman had opened fire on the base. Like many of you, we were trying to determine exactly what had happened, how many people were involved and how we could help the U.S. Military as they dealt with this unspeakable tragedy. While we were busy setting up an operation, our thoughts were also with our American Red Cross workers who are stationed at Fort Hood.
Few people know that the American Red Cross and the United States Military have a long and rich history. In fact, serving military families was the initial reason the worldwide Red Cross Movement was created. The American Red Cross has upheld that tradition for more than 125 years.
Every day, the Dallas Area Chapter supports the military through a variety of programs. We work at the Military Entrance Processing Station in downtown Dallas. We conduct briefings to deploying service members and their families about how to access the Red Cross in case of a family emergency, and we provide an around-the-clock emergency communications system so that loved ones here can get word to those deployed when a crisis happens at home. Last year alone, we touched more than 16,000 military members from our local Red Cross chapter.
Yesterday was a painstaking day for all of us. We have a heart for the men and women who protect our country because we work side-by-side with them everyday. We knew we could help.
Almost immediately, the Red Cross shipped 63 units of blood and blood products to the trauma centers in the Fort Hood area. Another 150 units arrived on a Southwest Airlines flight last night, some going to Killeen and others staying here to keep our local hospitals operational.
An extended blood drive was established at our American Red Cross Blood Donor Center at 1 Medical Parkway in Farmers Branch. Donors came out until 11:00p.m. to roll up their sleeves. Today, we will continue collecting blood at that location until 8:00p.m. We expect a wonderful turn-out from people who want and need to help. For information on area blood drives, you can visit www.givelife.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to make an appointment.
More than 200 concerned people have utilized our Safe and Well service. Family and friends around the country were able to go to Safe and Well and search for their loved ones at Fort Hood, or to register someone as safe. This is an invaluable service that brings tremendous peace of mind after any emergency. If you ever need this service, go to www.redcross.org and click on the Safe and Well link.
We fielded many calls from people like you who wanted to know the best way to help the people of Killeen. For that, we are always grateful. It reminds us that we have an important job to do at the American Red Cross and we can’t do it without you.
Late yesterday, we got word that all of our Red Cross workers stationed at Fort Hood were safe and accounted for. It was an enormous sigh of relief for the Red Cross family, but we know that at least 13 other families won’t have the same happy ending. So, as a Red Cross chapter, as a community, as a nation, we will press on in doing all that we can to alleviate the suffering of our Texas neighbors and our friends in the United States Armed Services.
Thank you for your care, your concern and your desire to turn your compassion into action. As we deal with these unspeakable tragedies, we are comforted to have you at our side.
Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross-Dallas Area Chapter